Netanyahu with Cyprus' Christofias 390.
(photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom GPO)
CYPRUS - Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Cypriot
President Dimitris Christofias at the presidential residence in Nicosia on Thursday,
launching the first visit ever to the island by an Israeli prime
Prior to his departure, Netanyahu, when asked about the agenda of the day-long visit, responded with one word: gas.
Jerusalem sees Cyprus – geographically the closest
European country to Israel – as a possible bridge to Europe, especially in
regard to energy issues.
One idea on the agenda of the Netanyahu-Christofias talks is the possibility of building a
gas pipeline to Cyprus, from which the gas could then be exported elsewhere in
Europe. The Delek energy company is interested in a partnership with Cyprus to
build a facility where gas from both countries could be processed and sent
This week Cyprus opened its second licensing round for
companies interested in searching for gas in its exclusive economic zone. The US
Noble Energy company made a huge natural gas find after being the only company
to bid for the first tender some five years ago.
“There are many ways we
can cooperate on the gas issue in a mutually beneficial manner,” one diplomatic
Cyprus’s interest in developing its off-shore
deposits has created a great deal of tension with Turkey, which has been
occupying northern Cyprus since 1974 and claims that Cyprus does not
have rights to natural resources in the area.
Netanyahu landed at the military air base in Paphos, in southwestern
Cyprus, and then drove an hour-and-a-half to the meeting in Nicosia. He
is also set to meet with Cyprus's opposition leader and foreign
Netanyahu’s visit comes just under a year after the Cypriot president came to Israel, in the first visit by a Cypriot
head of state in 11 years.